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4. Harrison, NJ

> Credit rating: Ba3

> 2009 revenues: $32,763,000

> 2009 debt: $92,613,000

> Median household income: $49,596

Harrison “issued a significant amount of debt to foster redevelopment, and continues to collect substantially less revenue from those developments than projected,” Moody’s explains. One of the largest projects is the $200 million Red Bull Arena, which was opened in March 2010 and cost the city $39 million in debt but has yet failed to have the expected returns. To help solve its debt problem, the city, which has a population of 13,620, plans to fire some police officers and firefighters.

Nine American Cities Going Broke

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Guest BlueTideBacker

4. Harrison, NJ

> Credit rating: Ba3

> 2009 revenues: $32,763,000

> 2009 debt: $92,613,000

> Median household income: $49,596

Harrison “issued a significant amount of debt to foster redevelopment, and continues to collect substantially less revenue from those developments than projected,” Moody’s explains. One of the largest projects is the $200 million Red Bull Arena, which was opened in March 2010 and cost the city $39 million in debt but has yet failed to have the expected returns. To help solve its debt problem, the city, which has a population of 13,620, plans to fire some police officers and firefighters.

Nine American Cities Going Broke

The Zombies keep electing the Row A idiots and this is what you get. Disgraceful.

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Guest Stalker

If the people who run the town were smart (which we know they aren't), they would have purchased the lot across from the path. They would have made millions in parking fees alone. The current owner which is a well known person collects a nice fee from commuters each day, then on game day collects another fee from soccer fans.

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If the people who run the town were smart (which we know they aren't), they would have purchased the lot across from the path. They would have made millions in parking fees alone. The current owner which is a well known person collects a nice fee from commuters each day, then on game day collects another fee from soccer fans.

Funny. Harrison IS BROKE, not going broke. Thanks to the existing administration with Doran and his crew. We need change.

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Guest ********Guest******

Funny. Harrison IS BROKE, not going broke. Thanks to the existing administration with Doran and his crew. We need change.

Yes this town is going broke , correction, Is Broke...There is suppose to be a hiring freeze, so why is there hiring going on, they hired more crossing Guards, also McDunbass does not run this town ******** does,Why are there people recieving more than 1 paycheck, they have multiple jobs, This Town is sooo crooked it is pathetic. If You do not kiss ass You get no where.....Why hasn't Christie come here and checked out what is going on here, He has been some how payed off or promised something, and Why do they have a ******* running the Violations Burea in Town now Who did He Know , He does not have the proper credentials and does not know what the hell He is doing, Rodgers is probably rolling over in His Grave several times, at least he did His best for the People, All the People......You need a question answered now and McD**ba** runs real fast because He is to freakin stupid to answer it has to ask ***********....

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Have you not learned anything yet? Christie could not give a crap about this little pathetic democratic berg. He is content to sit back and watch it self destruct. The violations is

run by the esquire's cousin. More nepotism. BTW, Esquire means lawyer, in case you didn't know. Put it together.

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Why arent the people who were laid off,getting their jobs back? They hired other people.I am looking into this. If anyone from the union can answer this please get back to me. ty

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Guest Think About It

I just have to laugh. The town's answer is lay off more cops and firemen. You are already down to a 30-man FD and a 39-man PD. There were 3 stabbings at the last international soccer game and there is another one taking place next week also. Are the taxpayers ever going to wake up and realize that the PD and FD are not the ones bleeding the town dry? It's the mayor and his little army! TWO attorneys, who total over a half-million dollars. Secretaries/Aides who are making six-figures who haven't even been working here that long. Department heads making over a buck-and-a-half that aren't even certified to hold their positions! A soccer stadium that nobody can decide who owns or who is to pay the taxes. Tax amnesty for new commerical constructions...how do you make any money without assessing taxes!!???

That's where your problem lies! Go to the council meetings (if you can find out what time they are at; usually 12 noon!) and open up your mouths. You elected these idiots into office!!! Do something about it! Or, just sit back once again and watch your beloved town disappear. It's a shame! When I look back, I am so glad that I was lucky enough to get out of that town when the opportunity arose; before the twon really took a nosedive It breaks my heart when I think about the Harrison I grew up in compared to the Harrison of today. I feel bad for the honest and hard working people there that can't get out, can't sell their houses, can't afford the taxes. I still have friends there, and they say how bad things are getting! Now the bankruptcy news is plastered all over Yahoo, MSNBC and NJ-101.5, but to name a few. Great job mayor!. I guess he will now leave for the shore and hand the leaky bag off to someone else. Will the last one out please shut off the lights!?

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Guest Former Blue Tider

I just have to laugh. The town's answer is lay off more cops and firemen. You are already down to a 30-man FD and a 39-man PD. There were 3 stabbings at the last international soccer game and there is another one taking place next week also. Are the taxpayers ever going to wake up and realize that the PD and FD are not the ones bleeding the town dry? It's the mayor and his little army! TWO attorneys, who total over a half-million dollars. Secretaries/Aides who are making six-figures who haven't even been working here that long. Department heads making over a buck-and-a-half that aren't even certified to hold their positions! A soccer stadium that nobody can decide who owns or who is to pay the taxes. Tax amnesty for new commerical constructions...how do you make any money without assessing taxes!!???

That's where your problem lies! Go to the council meetings (if you can find out what time they are at; usually 12 noon!) and open up your mouths. You elected these idiots into office!!! Do something about it! Or, just sit back once again and watch your beloved town disappear. It's a shame! When I look back, I am so glad that I was lucky enough to get out of that town when the opportunity arose; before the twon really took a nosedive It breaks my heart when I think about the Harrison I grew up in compared to the Harrison of today. I feel bad for the honest and hard working people there that can't get out, can't sell their houses, can't afford the taxes. I still have friends there, and they say how bad things are getting! Now the bankruptcy news is plastered all over Yahoo, MSNBC and NJ-101.5, but to name a few. Great job mayor!. I guess he will now leave for the shore and hand the leaky bag off to someone else. Will the last one out please shut off the lights!?

Harrison's only alternative is to declare bankruptcy. They can't lay off any more cops and firefighters and they can't squeeze much more out of property owners. The town's in a deep hole, it's time to stop digging.

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Harrison's only alternative is to declare bankruptcy. They can't lay off any more cops and firefighters and they can't squeeze much more out of property owners. The town's in a deep hole, it's time to stop digging.

I agree, the Elected Officials need to go. I don't think anyone can beat them at the ballot box because they have chased most eligible and informed people from Town, the only people left are non-citizens, those who are trapped financially or feed off the machine. I also agree that the Mayor, the School Super. and others will probably move to greener pastures now that the Towns "Real" financial condition has been exposed. Many of their parasitical friends and family will join them, unfortunately at this point Harrison is in an irreversible spiral toward becoming an Irvington. Property values will continue to decline, taxes will go up and services will be cut further. TIME TO HIT THE EXITS IF YA CAN!

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Don't give up just yet - there is still hope. Rome wasn't built overnight, even with all of their centuries of wars and financial woes. They found a way to come out of it, and come out on top. I can't stand pessimists, and yes, I am being realistic. Stay strong, stay positive and don't give up. Isn't that what you always shoot for, in all of life, even when you may feel like you are down and out, NEVER give up! You people are all fools. Yes, replace the current administration, in a time of hardship with people who think they can turn things around just like that?? Let's be serious people. Do you really think the current administration wants the town to fail??? You let them continue to work on improving things, and getting us out of the whole we are in. We are all entitled to our own opinions, I just wish everyone would base theirs on constructive facts and not just, I don't like this person because of their 'hair color' or who they know and not what they have done or what they can do, which seems to be the real issues at hand.

Band together, and stay positive. You will see - you will all see!

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Don't give up just yet - there is still hope. Rome wasn't built overnight, even with all of their centuries of wars and financial woes. They found a way to come out of it, and come out on top. I can't stand pessimists, and yes, I am being realistic. Stay strong, stay positive and don't give up. Isn't that what you always shoot for, in all of life, even when you may feel like you are down and out, NEVER give up! You people are all fools. Yes, replace the current administration, in a time of hardship with people who think they can turn things around just like that?? Let's be serious people. Do you really think the current administration wants the town to fail??? You let them continue to work on improving things, and getting us out of the whole we are in. We are all entitled to our own opinions, I just wish everyone would base theirs on constructive facts and not just, I don't like this person because of their 'hair color' or who they know and not what they have done or what they can do, which seems to be the real issues at hand.

Band together, and stay positive. You will see - you will all see!

We live in a town where.

The Town Attorney makes more than the Attorney General for the State of New Jersey.

The Chief of police makes more than the head of the State Police.

The old fire chief made more than the State Fire Marshall

The Superintendent of Schools makes more than any other Group 1 Superintendent

The head of the DPW makes more than the secretary of transportation for the state

The list goes on and on.

Do you think these people care if Harrison goes bankrupt? Their jobs and pensions are secure if the town goes bankrupt or not. Now that we have cut the towns work force in all areas shouldn't the salaries of these people also be cut. They are supervising less people and cannot justify their high salaries.

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Guest exBlueTide

Don't give up just yet - there is still hope. Rome wasn't built overnight, even with all of their centuries of wars and financial woes. They found a way to come out of it, and come out on top. I can't stand pessimists, and yes, I am being realistic. Stay strong, stay positive and don't give up. Isn't that what you always shoot for, in all of life, even when you may feel like you are down and out, NEVER give up! You people are all fools. Yes, replace the current administration, in a time of hardship with people who think they can turn things around just like that?? Let's be serious people. Do you really think the current administration wants the town to fail??? You let them continue to work on improving things, and getting us out of the whole we are in. We are all entitled to our own opinions, I just wish everyone would base theirs on constructive facts and not just, I don't like this person because of their 'hair color' or who they know and not what they have done or what they can do, which seems to be the real issues at hand.

Band together, and stay positive. You will see - you will all see!

Thank you Mayor for that wonderful pep talk, I love being called a fool.

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Harrison, like many other extremely small municipalities in NJ, should not exist in its current form. There are deep structural problems in the town. First, part of the solution to our fiscal problem is to merge with our local municipalities (likely E. Newark and Kearny). This is not a fix all, but does help eliminate some of the administrative overhead (department heads, additional school superintendent offices, etc.). This is almost impossible to implement, because most residents 1) Don't actually vote, 2) Those that do are town employees and stand to lose from a merger, 3) Have some sort of nostalgia for "our town", or 4) Don't recognize the long-term fiscal benefits of merger and see only the one-time merger costs.

Unfortunately we cannot afford our current municipal services. It is just too expensive to employ everyone. They may not receive substantial salaries, but the rapidly increasing healthcare and pension costs are a budget constraint year-on-year. We should be honest that it will be nearly impossible to "grow" out of this problem and instead need to substantially make do with less. That begins with gaining efficiencies through local mergers and continues with less services. We can't afford this anymore.

Second, the town fire department should be converted to an all volunteer force. This would be extremely difficult to do. It would also not save as much as might be expected - but would help in pension and health obligations. This is not an attack on the existing fire department and certainly not on those that work there - they do a good job and are generally good people. But in a town of 13K people, we cannot afford a full time squad. Perhaps a merged larger town could afford this.

In my opinion, those are the local fixes. There are state-wide fixes that could help: in particular banning multiple office holding and the holding of appointed and elected offices concurrently (e.g. Superintendent of Schools and Council).

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Guest BlueTideBacker

Harrison, like many other extremely small municipalities in NJ, should not exist in its current form. There are deep structural problems in the town. First, part of the solution to our fiscal problem is to merge with our local municipalities (likely E. Newark and Kearny). This is not a fix all, but does help eliminate some of the administrative overhead (department heads, additional school superintendent offices, etc.). This is almost impossible to implement, because most residents 1) Don't actually vote, 2) Those that do are town employees and stand to lose from a merger, 3) Have some sort of nostalgia for "our town", or 4) Don't recognize the long-term fiscal benefits of merger and see only the one-time merger costs.

Unfortunately we cannot afford our current municipal services. It is just too expensive to employ everyone. They may not receive substantial salaries, but the rapidly increasing healthcare and pension costs are a budget constraint year-on-year. We should be honest that it will be nearly impossible to "grow" out of this problem and instead need to substantially make do with less. That begins with gaining efficiencies through local mergers and continues with less services. We can't afford this anymore.

You're dreaming. Do you really think Kearny wants any part of Harrison with that huge debt? The FD and PD have already been cut to the bone. Sure there's some ridiculous salaries in town but the main culprit is the debt service (the interest we're paying on the debt) and that isn't going away. Our town "leaders" rolled the dice with the redevelopment, borrowing over 40 million taxpayer dollars and came up snake eyes. I think bankruptcy may be in our future.

In my opinion, those are the local fixes. There are state-wide fixes that could help: in particular banning multiple office holding and the holding of appointed and elected offices concurrently (e.g. Superintendent of Schools and Council).

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I actually don't think the debt service is the biggest burden. I think it is the structure of the town that is the burden. A municipality of about 14K people cannot support hundreds of full time workers (police, fire, treasury, school system, DPW, etc.). Even if we didn't have debt payments at present and into the near future, the fiscal situation would still be broken. The town can only survive each year with massive fiscal transfers from the state and federal government. Taxpayers in Harrison are ultimately fine with this because they get more than they pay for (unfortunately a lot of that "more" is lost to inefficient management and corruption of entrenched local officials).

People may be upset with the debt burdens the redevelopment created and that the redevelopment was poorly managed. Fair enough and probably true. But that is a relatively short term issue when compared to the obvious structural problems in this municipality. A town of 14K cannot and shouldn't exist.

I agree - part of the problem is that residents of Kearny would almost absolutely not vote for a consolidation with Harrison and E. Newark. And their reason would likely be related to Harrison's debt. But that is wrongheaded and short-termist. Kearny is also a town that should not exist in current form because the town population cannot afford all the local services without state and federal money.

Municipal service sharing, though not as effective as completely merging municipalities, could also help. For example, eliminate the 3 separate fire, police, and school systems. Merge them. It isn't just a few senior heads that you can remove - it is dozens. Another possibility: other towns have also eliminated their local police departments and paid for county officers to patrol the district. Residents of this area must unfortunately make do with less, because they cannot afford the current system.

Ultimately this will not happen without the state forcing the hands of the small towns across the state. I'd actually like to see the state create a law to eliminate all fiscal support for municipalities that are not over a certain population threshold or physical area (as a crude example, say 50K residents or 15 square miles). Then give the law 3-4 years from enactment to enforcement to allow towns to go through an organized planning process. And continue it with state payments to support some of the reorganization (as Gov. Christie recently announced - I believe to cover 20% of consolidation costs). That would force the hand of some of the 566 municipalities across the state to merge and whittle away at the thousands of duplicate positions and overhead.

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Harrison, like many other extremely small municipalities in NJ, should not exist in its current form. There are deep structural problems in the town. First, part of the solution to our fiscal problem is to merge with our local municipalities (likely E. Newark and Kearny). This is not a fix all, but does help eliminate some of the administrative overhead (department heads, additional school superintendent offices, etc.). This is almost impossible to implement, because most residents 1) Don't actually vote, 2) Those that do are town employees and stand to lose from a merger, 3) Have some sort of nostalgia for "our town", or 4) Don't recognize the long-term fiscal benefits of merger and see only the one-time merger costs.

Unfortunately we cannot afford our current municipal services. It is just too expensive to employ everyone. They may not receive substantial salaries, but the rapidly increasing healthcare and pension costs are a budget constraint year-on-year. We should be honest that it will be nearly impossible to "grow" out of this problem and instead need to substantially make do with less. That begins with gaining efficiencies through local mergers and continues with less services. We can't afford this anymore.

Second, the town fire department should be converted to an all volunteer force. This would be extremely difficult to do. It would also not save as much as might be expected - but would help in pension and health obligations. This is not an attack on the existing fire department and certainly not on those that work there - they do a good job and are generally good people. But in a town of 13K people, we cannot afford a full time squad. Perhaps a merged larger town could afford this.

In my opinion, those are the local fixes. There are state-wide fixes that could help: in particular banning multiple office holding and the holding of appointed and elected offices concurrently (e.g. Superintendent of Schools and Council).

Thank you for the educated response and the elaboration on so many issues we all think and speak about, but choose to not voice.

P.S.

I knew I'd Get you back, you are much too knowledgeable to hold back. Thanks

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Harrison has been the beneficiary of literally hundreds of millions of dollars in State and Federal aid over the years.

Yet your financial problems continue to escalate even after decimating your public safety and services to curb costs.

And here it is again the outcry to merge with Kearny, funny how that only comes after the millions you received are gone and there is no more coming, at least in the near future.

You say that Kearny should not exist as a Town due to its size and a merger is the way to go for the benefit of both Towns tax payers?

What an incredibly self-serving statement.

Of course any Kearny taxpayer with half a brain would be completely against any sort of merger with Harrison and for a lot more reasons than your Debt.

Over the years we've watched the nonsense that passes for politics and government in your Town but it is your Town so cest la vie. I doubt that anyone here in Kearny is surprised at your situation.

No things here in Kearny are far from perfect but they're our problems and we are not looking for another town to shoulder them for us.

You made your choices, you chose your redevelopments and Soccer stadium and if they had the results you were hoping for, no matter how far-fetched you wouldn't be able to find the word "merger" in your dictionary much less use it in a sentence, and who'd blame you?

But that's not the case and for Kearny merging with Harrison would only ensure our demise while your politics as usual continued and the Kearny taxpayers footed the bill in even higher taxes and lower property values.

It's your Town they're your problems now step up and fix them,the answer is not and will never be on this side of the border.

jus sayin

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Well well the almighty "JUS SAYIN" has decided to crawl out of his hole to comment on the situation of whats going on in Harrison.Why don't you worry about the situation that's going on in Kearny and leave Harrison's problems to the people in Harrison.

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How interesting, a fireman from Kearny who hasn't seen any action in 20 years is gonna tell people how to run their lives, again. A recent comment on the site was made that Harrison can keep the problems of their own 20,000 assholes because Kearny has enough assholes of their own. The people of Kearny were called "sheep" by the Kearny FF first and have now graduated to being called assholes. Such respect for the citizens whose taxes pay their salaries.

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Guest Harrison Senior

How interesting, a fireman from Kearny who hasn't seen any action in 20 years is gonna tell people how to run their lives, again. A recent comment on the site was made that Harrison can keep the problems of their own 20,000 assholes because Kearny has enough assholes of their own. The people of Kearny were called "sheep" by the Kearny FF first and have now graduated to being called assholes. Such respect for the citizens whose taxes pay their salaries.

Give it up Barney. You need to come up with some new material, you're boring.

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Regardless of the specifics of Harrison-Kearny-E.Newark, this is a microcosm of the broader statewide problem. You are correct, Harrison has been horribly mismanaged for many years. Fair enough. Good point. The broader problem in the state is there are 566 municipalities. It isn't just Harrison and Kearny that are too small to exist, it is that hundreds of the towns in this state are too small to exist. It creates duplicate government and inefficient and ineffective coordination. Almost all of these towns receive state and federal assistance. Yes, many will likely point out, Harrison receives more than most and is one of the the worst offender. But almost ALL of the towns in NJ are receiving subsidies that allow them to remain tiny enclaves. Kearny included. Kearny receives state funds for schools too (like most other towns) and those funds are factored in when determining the operating budget and the tax levy (i.e. the funds from the state are not all just special one time grants). And yes, I know Harrison is worse. Got it. That isn't the point.

These towns are almost ALL subsidized by the state - think of all the state money to the local school districts. One bucket of spend surely is teacher salaries and benefits (and we can debate over how much they should receive in compensation), but ultimately you probably can't shrink that area of spend much beyond reducing some medical and retirement costs. Why? Because you probably need roughly that many teachers to keep class sizes relatively constant, no matter how big the towns ultimately are.

With that said, one bucket of spend towns CAN reduce by administrative changes is the bureaucracy that exists around municipalities (and school districts). Why does Harrison, Kearny, and E. Newark have 3 separate superintendents and board staffs? Why 3 separate police chiefs? etc. Fine, don't merge the town budgets and keep the tax levy independent, but at least work at municipal service sharing so that debts remain separate but we can benefit from some cost reductions. Surely the optimal size for town administration is not ~6000 people in E. Newark. Surely it isn't ~20K in Kearny. And yes, this does mean "less" overall to the town - but it is probably the best part we could cut with the least amount of damage to town safety, effectiveness, etc. Better to eliminate the superintendent in E. Newark and merge his responsibilities with that of Kearny or Harrison than to eliminate 2 classroom teaching positions.

Town sizes are arbitrarily small in NJ. The solution isn't to merge all towns into a single entity, but to bring some rationalization to the sizes, which likely means eliminating a couple hundred towns statewide. The state has put out the "carrot" of paying for some of the merging costs right now, I think it is time for the state to use the "stick" of withholding funds from towns that don't merge.

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How interesting, a fireman from Kearny who hasn't seen any action in 20 years is gonna tell people how to run their lives, again. A recent comment on the site was made that Harrison can keep the problems of their own 20,000 assholes because Kearny has enough assholes of their own. The people of Kearny were called "sheep" by the Kearny FF first and have now graduated to being called assholes. Such respect for the citizens whose taxes pay their salaries.

Actually it was a Cop that called them Sheep...sounded like a Cop in the asshole post as well. Of course you are pretty much confirming that description of people from Harrison..asshole.

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Regardless of the specifics of Harrison-Kearny-E.Newark, this is a microcosm of the broader statewide problem. You are correct, Harrison has been horribly mismanaged for many years. Fair enough. Good point. The broader problem in the state is there are 566 municipalities. It isn't just Harrison and Kearny that are too small to exist, it is that hundreds of the towns in this state are too small to exist. It creates duplicate government and inefficient and ineffective coordination. Almost all of these towns receive state and federal assistance. Yes, many will likely point out, Harrison receives more than most and is one of the the worst offender. But almost ALL of the towns in NJ are receiving subsidies that allow them to remain tiny enclaves. Kearny included. Kearny receives state funds for schools too (like most other towns) and those funds are factored in when determining the operating budget and the tax levy (i.e. the funds from the state are not all just special one time grants). And yes, I know Harrison is worse. Got it. That isn't the point.

These towns are almost ALL subsidized by the state - think of all the state money to the local school districts. One bucket of spend surely is teacher salaries and benefits (and we can debate over how much they should receive in compensation), but ultimately you probably can't shrink that area of spend much beyond reducing some medical and retirement costs. Why? Because you probably need roughly that many teachers to keep class sizes relatively constant, no matter how big the towns ultimately are.

With that said, one bucket of spend towns CAN reduce by administrative changes is the bureaucracy that exists around municipalities (and school districts). Why does Harrison, Kearny, and E. Newark have 3 separate superintendents and board staffs? Why 3 separate police chiefs? etc. Fine, don't merge the town budgets and keep the tax levy independent, but at least work at municipal service sharing so that debts remain separate but we can benefit from some cost reductions. Surely the optimal size for town administration is not ~6000 people in E. Newark. Surely it isn't ~20K in Kearny. And yes, this does mean "less" overall to the town - but it is probably the best part we could cut with the least amount of damage to town safety, effectiveness, etc. Better to eliminate the superintendent in E. Newark and merge his responsibilities with that of Kearny or Harrison than to eliminate 2 classroom teaching positions.

Town sizes are arbitrarily small in NJ. The solution isn't to merge all towns into a single entity, but to bring some rationalization to the sizes, which likely means eliminating a couple hundred towns statewide. The state has put out the "carrot" of paying for some of the merging costs right now, I think it is time for the state to use the "stick" of withholding funds from towns that don't merge.

Well said and just for the record most Towns are mismanaged the ones that are not are more the exception than the rule unfortunately.

As far as teacher salaries we pay these costs because that's what it takes to make a living wage in a state with one of the highest costs of living in the country, you do get what you pay for, as a Firefighter people would say that I'm paid far too much yet I live in Kearny own a modest home here haven't owned a new car since 1981 and my children attend the public schools and like the rest of you my bank account is far from abundant maybe even embarrasing,lol.

As far as a merger reducing the needs for multiple Chiefs and Superintendants, yes you are right but unfortunately those are the last positions to go, face it the people making the decisions during a merger are those very people and they're not about to put themselves out of a job now are they?

Case in point North Hudson Regional Fire Dept, those Towns are in even worse shape almost 20 years after the merger and I find myself over there backing them up during fires more now than ever.

Now I'll tell you what I think is one of the biggest problems, you cannot fund education through property taxes, no way no how.

There I said it

Of course if your mismanaging the money in the first place it doesn't make a difference where your getting it from now does it?

As far as the State subsidising the Towns, well that's one way of putting it another way to look at it is they're giving us back some of the money we pay them, right?

I kinda figured my post was going to ruffle a few feathers and was expecting to catch hell but other than the usual village idiot response your post and the others were a pleasant surprise.

Thanks

jus sayin

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